As a commercial property manager, you may think things are winding down in fall and winter, giving you permission to relax on some of your outdoor to-dos.
But now is actually the best time to conduct some fall landscape prep. Why? Because the preventive maintenance you do now will make your property look better come springtime.
Let’s talk about key reasons you should be preparing your landscape for winter, as well as some seasonal landscape maintenance best practices for fall to ensure your landscape is ready.
Why is Fall Prep so Critical?
Winter’s colder temperatures, snow buildup, and ice accumulations can wreak havoc on your commercial facility’s landscape – and you don’t have the time or the budget to spend on property damage, utility interruptions, and access problems or closures that could impact your business.
That’s why it’s important to take steps now focusing on preparing your landscape for winter.
Winter may seem like a sleepy season, but your trees, shrubs, turf, and perennials all use winter to develop their root systems, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. This is an essential step they take to come back strong in spring. Without that pre-winter care, your plant roots won’t get that chance to do their jobs properly.
On top of great aesthetics, you want to ensure your commercial site is safe for anyone on your property, whether they’re working, shopping, or visiting. Unhealthy trees can become risks when heavy snow and ice pile up, dropping branches that can damage property. Proper pruning can reduce tree failures, ensuring safe passage during the winter.
You also want a reputation that says you care about your business. By properly caring for your trees, shrubs, and plants., This lets everyone know you’re investing in your brand.
Focusing on seasonal landscape maintenance now can save you from all of these headaches later.
Commercial Landscape Best Practices for the Fall Months
The goal: Preparing your landscape for winter now to ensure a clean, professional look through the colder season, and have a better result come spring when your landscape renews once again. Follow these 5 steps to get the job done right.
Ensure Your Trees Are Healthy
Your initial fall landscape prep task is to make sure your trees are in good shape going into the coming dormant and colder season.
To do this, you must first assess the health of the trees on your property. A commercial landscape professional or certified arborist can inspect them for damaged or weakened limbs. After making note of any unsafe branches, pruning them reduces the safety risks on your property.
Late fall and early winter are actually great times for dormant pruning because arborists can see the entire tree structure and better access and inspect its branches.
If necessary, tree cabling and bracing weak branches or limbs can reduce stress damage on your trees from any high winds or the weight of heavy snow and ice.
Also, fall is a great time to ensure that heavy mulch and leaves haven’t piled up around your trees, creating mulch volcanoes that can choke your tree roots.
Fall is a great time to transplant existing trees or plant new trees. The cooler temperatures give your trees a chance to take root in their new homes and become secure before bursting into new growth once spring arrives.
Prepare Turf for the Dormant Season
Next up are essential seasonal lawn care tasks.
Fall is the perfect time for aerating your turf. This process of pulling small soil plugs from your turf with an aerator allows air and moisture to penetrate deep into the soil to alleviate compaction and help your turf develop stronger roots. On top of this, aeration helps your turf stay more resistant to drought and other harsh environmental conditions.
Autumn is also an essential time for that last fertilization before the winter season. Post aeration, fertilization helps create a nutrient-rich soil for your turf.
Another great task to pair with aeration is overseeding. Those aeration holes provide seeds with optimum seed-to-soil contact so you have more successful germination and grass growth.
These tasks, in addition to proper general turf care, can ensure your turf survives the harsh winter season and looks great once spring arrives.
Prune Shrubs and Perennials in Late Fall
In addition to tree pruning, you also want to prune your shrubs and perennials in late fall.
This task cleans up their appearance going into winter, improving aesthetics.
Cutting back perennials after the first few frosts also helps the plants focus on root development – that is a key step in ensuring they come back healthy in spring.
Inspect and Maintain Irrigation Systems
Water is essential for plant care during the hot summer months, but once fall arrives and temperatures cool off, it’s time to look at your commercial irrigation system as part of your seasonal landscape maintenance.
In colder regions of the country, you’ll need to prepare your system for winter to avoid freezing irrigation lines that can burst and cause damage to the line.. In warmer areas, you want to adjust your water usage accordingly to fit your plants’ winter water requirements.
Don’t Flake on Snow Management
When it comes to preparing yourself for snow and ice to fall, starting early is your best bet to avoid any damage this wet wintery mix can cause.
This means placing snow stakes near curb and driveway edges to keep snow plow drivers on proper pathways on your site. Doing this before the snow falls ensures proper placement.
Also, early fall is the perfect time to start thinking about a contract for snow and ice management that fits your specific needs and budget. This way, no matter what kind of season Old Man Winter delivers, you’re ready.